"The majority of my neighbors are not sure who Buck Owens is, but they do know who Vicente Fernández is."
-- Bakersfield resident speaking to the California Redistricting Commission
Now that the work of the California Redistricting Commission has ended, it's time for the fireworks to start.
Thanks to a healthy increase in the Latino population that has made the Golden State a little more browner -- 38 percent to be exact -- the legislative maps for state Senate, Assembly and Congress have 26 districts with a majority of voting age Latinos, and eight more have at least 40 percent districts with voting age Latinos.
That increases the likelihood that a Latino north of the Tehachapi Mountains could be elected to Congress. It could also lead to a game of musical chairs being played in the San Joaquín Valley where five counties now have a Latino majority.
The questions being tossed around today:
Will former state Sen. Dean Flórez of Shafter or the man who succeeded him, Michael Rubio of Bakersfield make a bid for the newly drawn 21st Congressional District which stretches from Mendota to Arvin? The current representative, Jim Costa, was drawn into the 16th Congressional District, which runs from Fresno to Livingston. The new 20th district is 49 percent Latinos of voting age.
Will former astronaut José Hernández run for Congress representing the southern half of San Joaquín County. Hernández has not announced his decision.
What Democrat will try to unseat Assemblymember David Valadao, R-Hanford, in the 32nd Assembly District? The district, which includes Hanford, Shafter and Delano is 46 percent Latino. Previous representatives have included Flórez and Nicole M. Parra. Bakersfield City Councilmember Rudy Salas is being mentioned as a possible candidate.
If Rubio makes a Congressional bid, who will step in to run for his state Senate seat? Among the contenders are Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno.
If Perea makes a bid for Rubio's current seat, who will seek his Assembly seat which has been held by a Latino ever since former Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante was elected in 1993. The redrawn district is 51 percent Latino.
The maps, including a new one for the state Board of Equalization, were approved by the commission on Monday. Hours later, the California Republican Party signaled it will back a referendum with respect to the state Senate lines and possibly the Congressional lines.
"A referendum will be filed with respect to the Senate lines and possibly the Congressional lines. The California Republican Party will wholeheartedly support those efforts when they come about. "
I have been saying for months that the (commission's) actions have been unfair if not unconstitutional, and that remains the case," said party chairman Tom Del Beccaro. The state Republican Party "will do whatever it can to give voters the chance to correct what the commission failed to do."
The commission, which voted 13-1 to approve the final maps on July 29, believes its maps will withstand any legal challenge.
"There is no secret to how the commission has drawn its lines," said commission chair Connie Galambos Malloy, who is one of four "declined to state" members of the commission.
Republicans and Democrats each represent five of the remaining commission members.
The commission -- which was established last fall after voters approved Proposition 11 to take the redistricting duties away from the state Legislature -- held 34 public meetings throughout the state and took testimony from 3,000 people at those meetings and accepted testimony from 20,000 more in writing.
The commission had to adhere to the federal Voting Rights Act, and never considered political party registration nor the home addresses of incumbent politicians in drawing the lines.
"We believe that the new districts will be upheld in the court of public opinion," said Galambos Malloy.
Unless the courts step in, the new districts will be used for the 2012 primary next June.
Redistricting and Latinos
Latinos of voting age in legislative districts drawn by the California Redistricting Commission./ El porcentaje de latinos de la edad de votar en distritos legislativos diseñados por la Comisión de California de Diseñar Líneas.
District 40 (Downtown L.A.) 73%
District 35 (Ontario) 52%
District 29 (San Fernando Valley) 51%
District 38 (Whittier) 51%
District 51 (San Diego) 51%
District 32 (Covina) 50%
District 34 (East L.A.) 50%
District 21 (Hanford, Arvin) 49%
District 46 (Santa Ana) 46%
District 44 (Compton) 44%
District 16 (Merced, Fresno) 41%
State Senate/Senado estatal
District 24 (Los Ángeles) 52%
District 14 (Fresno, Arvin) 51%
District 20 (Ontario) 51%
District 33 (Long Beach) 51%
District 32 (Downey) 50%
District 40 (San Diego) 46%
District 22 (West Covina) 44%
District 12 (Modesto, Merced) 43%
District 60 (East L.A.) 60%
District 63 (Los Ángeles) 58%
District 57 (Whittier) 57%
District 58 (Downey) 56%
District 69 (Santa Ana) 53%
District 39 (San Fernando Valley) 52%
District 47 (Rialto) 52%
District 31 (Fresno) 51%
District 48 (Azusa) 51%
District 52 (Ontario) 51%
District 53 (Los Ángeles) 51%
District 80 (National City) 51%
District 56 (Indio) 50%
District 59 (Los Ángeles) 50%
District 32 (Hanford) 46%
District 30 (Salinas) 44%
District 64 (Los Ángeles) 40%
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